Fleet News

Fleets must ensure standard of repairs

The skills gap crisis in the bodyshop industry could mean fleet managers have yet another duty-of-care issue to deal with – that of ensuring cars have been repaired to a standard that does not compromise their crashworthiness.

A new report claims that a ‘significant investment and skill gap’ in the repair industry means that many bodyshops cannot deal with the increasingly complex construction of cars.

As a result fleet managers, especially those running self-insured fleets which manage their own repairs, will need to ensure drivers are not having cars returned with sub-standard repairs. Fleets could face penalties if in a subsequent crash the car is found not to have offered the level of expected occupant protection.

A spokesman for Trend Tracker, which produced the report, entitled The Car Body Repair Market in the UK, said: ‘Making sure this doesn’t happen with potentially fatal consequences to company car drivers could be an important element in fleet managers’ risk management, whether or not the impending Corporate Manslaughter Bill proves tougher than the Health & Safety at Work Act when it is passed later this year.’

The report claims that fleets may have to have such repair work done by carmakers’ approved networks, with resulting higher repair bills.

Robert Macnab, author of the report, predicts that if insurers and fleets are forced, by vehicle complexity, to place a higher proportion of repairs with manufacturer approved bodyshops, these bodyshops are likely to respond to the extra demand with higher labour rates.

Last week, Fleet News reported on numerous fleet managers who had found the quality of bodyshop repairs slipping alarmingly.

However, bodyshops complain that they are being forced to work with tiny profit margins by the insurance industry.

Indeed, Trend Tracker’s report backs this up, claiming independent bodyshops make an average profit of only £22 per repair.

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